Released in 2016 on International Anthem Recording Co.
For over 20 years Jeff Parker has continued to be one of the most interesting and innovative guitarists and improvisers in jazz and experimental music. Since he moved to Los Angeles from the free-jazz/avant-garde Mecca of Chicago a few years ago, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him 20+ times, playing anything from free improvisation to straight ahead bebop to the experimental dub/jazz/electronic-infused rock he plays with Tortoise. But of all the projects he’s done in the past few years, none have grabbed me quite so hard as The New Breed. On this one he seamlessly weaves dusty, homemade Dilla-inflected hip-hop beats with innovative post-bop compositions. The vinyl loops and beats serve as a groundwork for extremely innovative free and composed passages from his stellar ensemble featuring reed/woodwind player Josh Johnson (who’s been killing it in LA with bands like MAST and his own groups), bassist/recording engineer Paul Bryan and, last but not least, Jamire Williams, who is simply one of the greatest drummers I’ve ever seen, whether with this group or with Moses Sumney. The way he can play 808-heavy hip-hop beats without losing that jazzy swing is beyond me. Obviously a lot of hip-hop draws from and samples jazz, a lot of jazz players have worked in hip hop influence or played in hip-hop bands, but I’ve never heard such a balanced fusion between the two traditions as this album. If this is the beginning of a New Breed I really can’t wait to hear what the future holds.
Highly recommended for fans of Madlib’s jazzy Yesterday’s New Universe projects or any other fan of post-bop jazz or golden-era hip-hop, this album truly works great from all perspectives.